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GLOSSARY OF BUDGET TERMS
Balances of budget authority--These are amounts of budget authority
provided in previous years that have not been outlayed.
Obligated balances--These are amounts that have been obligated but
not yet outlayed. Unobligated balances are amounts that have not been
obligated and that remain available for obligation under law.
Baseline--A policy neutral set of estimates designed to show the
effect on continuing current law through the period covered by the
Breach--A breach is the amount by which new budget authority or
outlays within a category of discretionary appropriations for a fiscal
year is above the cap on new budget authority or outlays for that
category for that year.
Budget--The Budget of the United States Government sets forth the
President's comprehensive financial plan for allocating resources and
indicates the President's priorities for the Federal Government.
Budget authority (BA)--Budget authority is the authority provided by
Federal law to incur financial obligations that will result in
outlays. Specific forms of budget authority include:
provisions of law that make funds available for obligation and
expenditure (other than borrowing authority), including the
authority to obligate and expend offsetting receipts and
borrowing authority, which is authority granted to a Federal
entity to borrow (e.g., through the issuance of promissory notes
or monetary credits) and to obligate and expend the borrowed
contract authority, which is the making of funds available for
obligation but not for expenditure; and
offsetting receipts and collections as negative budget authority.
Budgetary resources--Budgetary resources comprise new budget
authority, unobligated balances of budget authority, direct spending
authority, and obligation limitations.
Budget totals--The budget includes totals for budget authority,
outlays, and receipts. Some presentations in the budget distinguish
on-budget totals from off-budget totals. On-budget totals reflect the
transactions of all Federal Government entities except those excluded
from the budget totals by law. Off-budget totals reflect the
transactions of Government entities that are excluded from the
on-budget totals by law. Currently excluded are the social security
trust funds (Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal
Disability Insurance Trust Funds) and the Postal Service Fund. The on-
and off-budget totals are combined to derive a total for Federal
Cap--This is the term commonly used to refer to legal limits on the
budget authority and outlays for each fiscal year provided in by
discretionary appropriations. A sequester is required if an
appropriation for a category causes a breach in the cap.
Credit program account--A credit program account receives an
appropriation for the subsidy cost of a direct loan or loan guarantee
program, disburses such cost to a financing account for the program.
Deficit--A deficit is the amount by which outlays exceed receipts.
Direct loan--A direct loan is a disbursement of funds by the
Government to a non-Federal borrower under a contract that requires
the repayment of such funds with or without interest. The term
includes the purchase of, or participation in, a loan made by another
lender. The term does not include the acquisition of a federally
guaranteed loan in satisfaction of default claims or the price support
loans of the Commodity Credit Corporation. (Cf. loan guarantee.)
Direct spending--Direct spending, sometimes called mandatory
spending, is a category of outlays from budget authority provided in
law other than appropriations acts, entitlement authority, and the
budget authority for the food stamp program. (Cf. discretionary
Discretionary appropriations--Discretionary appropriations is a
category of budget authority that comprises budgetary resources
(except those provided to fund direct-spending programs) provided in
appropriations acts. (Cf. direct spending.)
Emergency spending--Emergency spending is spending that the
President and the Congress have designated as an emergency
requirement. Such spending is not subject to the limits on
discretionary spending, if it is discretionary spending, or the
pay-as-you-go rules, if it is direct spending.
Entitlement authority--A provision of law that legally obligates the
Federal government to make specified payments to any person or
government that meets the eligibility requirements established by that
law. Section 250(18) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit
Control Act of 1985 specifies that the term includes, for the purposes
of defining direct spending under the Act, a list of so-called
mandatory appropriations in the joint explanatory statement of
managers accompanying the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1990.
Federal funds--Federal funds are the moneys collected and spent by
the Government other than those designated as trust funds. Federal
funds include general, special, public enterprise, and
intragovernmental funds. (Cf. trust funds.)
Financing account--A financing account receives the cost payments
from a credit program account and includes other cash flows to and
from the Government resulting from direct loan obligations or loan
guarantee commitments made on or after October 1, 1991. At least one
financing account is associated with each credit program account. For
programs with direct and guaranteed loans, there are separate
financing accounts for direct loans and guaranteed loans. The
transactions of the financing accounts are not included in the budget
totals. (Cf. liquidating account.)
Fiscal year--The fiscal year is the Government's accounting period.
It begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th, and is designated
by the calendar year in which it ends. Before 1976, the fiscal year
began on July 1 and ended on June 30.
General fund--The general fund consists of accounts for receipts not
earmarked by law for a specific purpose, the proceeds of general
borrowing, and the expenditure of these moneys.
Governmental receipts--These are collections from the public that
result primarily from the exercise of the Government's sovereign or
governmental powers. Governmental receipts consist mostly of
individual and corporate income taxes and social insurance taxes, but
also include excise taxes, compulsory user charges, customs duties,
court fines, certain license fees, and deposits of earnings by the
Federal Reserve System. Gifts and donations are also counted as
governmental receipts. They are compared to outlays in calculating a
surplus or deficit. (Cf. offsetting collections.)
Liquidating account--A liquidating account includes all cash flows
to and from the Government resulting from direct loan obligations and
loan guarantee commitments prior to October 1, 1991. (Cf. financing
Loan guarantee--A loan guarantee is any guarantee, insurance, or
other pledge with respect to the payment of all or a part of the
principal or interest on any debt obligation of a non-Federal borrower
to a non-Federal lender. The term does not include the insurance of
deposits, shares, or other withdrawable accounts in financial
institutions. (Cf. direct loan.)
Mandatory spending--See direct spending.
Intragovernmental funds--Intragovernmental funds are accounts for
business-type or market-oriented activities conducted primarily within
and between Government agencies and financed by offsetting collections
that are credited directly to the fund.
Obligations--Obligations are binding agreements that will result in
outlays, immediately or in the future. Budgetary resources must be
available before obligations can be incurred legally.
Off-budget--See budget totals.
Offsetting collections--Offsetting collections are collections from
the public that result from business-type or market-oriented
activities and collections from other Government accounts. These
collections are deducted from gross disbursements in calculating
outlays, rather than counted in Governmental receipt totals. Some
offsetting collections are credited directly to appropriation or fund
accounts; others, called offsetting receipts, are credited to receipt
accounts. The authority to spend offsetting collections is a form of
budget authority. (Cf. governmental receipts.)
Offsetting receipts--See offsetting collections.
On-budget--See budget totals.
Outlays--Outlays are the measure of Government spending. They are
payments to liquidate obligations (other than the repayment of debt),
net of refunds and offsetting collections. Outlays generally are
recorded on a cash basis, but also include cash-equivalent
transactions, the subsidy cost of direct loans and loan guarantees,
and interest accrued on public issues of Treasury debt.
Pay-as-you-go (PAYGO)--This term refers to requirements in law that
result in a sequester if the estimated combined result of legislation
affecting direct spending or receipts is an increase in the deficit
for a fiscal year.
Public enterprise funds--Public enterprise funds are revolving
accounts for business or market-oriented activities conducted
primarily with the public and financed by offsetting collections that
are credited directly to the fund.
Receipts--See governmental receipts and offsetting collections.
Sequester--A sequester is the cancellation of budgetary resources
provided by discretionary appropriations or direct spending
legislation, following various procedures prescribed in law. A
sequester may occur in response to a discretionary appropriation that
causes a breach or in response to increases in the deficit resulting
from the combined result of legislation affecting direct spending or
receipts (referred to as a "pay-as-you-go" sequester).
Special funds--Special funds are Federal fund accounts for receipts
earmarked for specific purposes and the associated expenditure of
those receipts. (Cf. trust funds.)
Subsidy--This term means the same as cost when it is used in
connection with Federal credit programs.
Surplus--A surplus is the amount by which receipts exceed outlays.
Supplemental appropriation--A supplemental appropriation is one
enacted subsequent to a regular annual appropriations act when the
need for funds is too urgent to be postponed until the next regular
annual appropriations act.
Trust funds--Trust funds are accounts, designated by law as trust
funds, for receipts earmarked for specific purposes and the associated
expenditure of those receipts. (Cf. special funds.)